Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information about Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for the education sector, and parents, caregivers and whānau of learners.

Please note: our Novel coronavirus pages are under active review and are updated regularly.

Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses which includes the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

In January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed a new type of coronavirus, known as COVID-19 (formerly known as 2019-nCoV).

Current status

There are no confirmed cases of Novel coronavirus COVID-19 in New Zealand to date. The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The likelihood of an imported case in New Zealand is high, however the likelihood of a widespread outbreak remains low. Keep updated on the status of Novel coronavirus on the Ministry of Health website:

Novel coronavirus information – Ministry of Health (external link)

Temporary restrictions on travel remain in place as a precautionary measure to protect against the spread of the Novel coronavirus COVID-19. Keep updated on travel restrictions through the New Zealand Immigration website:

Immigration New Zealand Coronavirus Update (external link)

Information for schools, early learning centres, tertiary institutions, and whānau

The Ministry of Education is working closely with the Ministry of Health to provide the most up to date information to the education sector, and caregivers and whānau of learners:

Novel coronavirus: Information for Principals and Tumuaki
Novel coronavirus: Information for Early Learning Services
Novel coronavirus: Information for tertiary institutions and tertiary students, including international students
Novel coronavirus: Information for caregivers and whānau of learners

Novel coronavirus and wellbeing

Members of your community may be feeling worried about the Novel coronavirus.

Advice on how you can support their wellbeing here:

More about Novel coronavirus and wellbeing

New Zealand Human Rights Commission

If you know someone who has experienced racial discrimination related to coronavirus, the Human Rights Commission offers a free and confidential enquires and complaints service they can use:

Schools with homestay families

Young people have been returning to homestay accommodation from China. The health of students and homestay families is a priority.

If homestay families have concerns about hosting students who may have been exposed to the virus, they should first contact the student’s school.

Current Ministry of Health Advice 

As of 2 February 2020, all travellers arriving in New Zealand out of mainland China should stay away from school for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China.

People who departed from mainland China before midnight 2 February are not required to stay away unless they have been in Wuhan City or Hubei Province in the last 14 days. 

If someone has been in close contact with a confirmed novel coronavirus case they should stay away from school for 14 days. If you develop symptoms including fever, coughing and difficulty breathing you should ring Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.

If a student does not show signs of illness after 14 days, then they should return to school and continue their studies as normal.

Homestay carers already look after international students who are sick. This responsibility is set out in the contract between the school and the homestay.

Should homestay carers be unwilling to take a student who has returned from China until after the stay home period, the school will need to find a short-term solution until the 14 days has ended.

Any short-term accommodation should still be in safe accommodation with carers who have been subject to police checks and other requirements set out in the Code.

Urgent police vetting for new homestay providers

If there is a need to urgently Police vet a new homestay provider, NZ Police are able to process vetting requests urgently to ensure that Police checking requirements for ‘safe accommodation’ are met. This service should  only be used for genuinely urgent applications affected by the withdrawal of homestay families due to health concerns.

You can submit the request as per the usual process, entering 'HOMESTAY URGENT' into the ‘Agency Reference’ field of the online vetting request form. These police vets are likely to be processed within 1-2 working days.

The Ministry will work with the Police Vetting Service to monitor the use of this urgent service.

If homestay carers or your students have concerns, they should contact Healthline on 0800 611 116, or contact their doctor for medical advice. Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages, and they have Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff available.

We want to reassure homestay carers that if a student is staying home, it is a precautionary measure, and that the student does not need to be supervised if they are not ill, and are over 14. It is important that international students continue to feel welcome and are not isolated.

If you have specific questions about pastoral care, please call NZQA’s Code team on 0800 697 296.

School Hostels

The health of students and staff is a priority for all. With young people returning to schools and hostels, you will be aware you have a responsibility to support your boarders with access to health care and other support services. 

If you or your boarders have a concern contact Healthline at 0800 611 116, or contact their doctor for medical advice. Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages and they have Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff available.

Keep in touch with health authorities to support your boarders. 

You can keep in touch with your local District Health Board website and stay informed by updated Ministry of Health information on their website:

District Health Boards – Ministry of Health  (external link)

Novel coronavirus guidance – Ministry of Health  (external link)

If students are advised to stay away

Schools may advise your students to stay away from school. More information is available about this on our information page for principals and tumuaki:

Novel coronavirus: Information for Principals and Tumuaki  (external link)

Under Regulation 65 your hostel should have an area and facilities to temporarily separate boarders if needed. You are not required to isolate anyone, however you may wish use this part of the facility to temporarily separate boarders who have recently returned from China.

Keep an eye on our website and the Ministry of Health website for updates.

Novel coronavirus guidance – Ministry of Health  (external link)

Preventing the risk 

Everybody should follow the following basic principles to reduce the risk of getting an acute respiratory infection or passing it on to others:

  • regularly washing hands (for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap and dry thoroughly)
  • covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze
  • staying home if you are sick
  • avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
  • if you feel unwell you should avoid public gatherings and events
  •  cleaning surfaces regularly (when infection is suspected).

Go to the Ministry of Health website for more information about preventing the risk:

Novel coronavirus guidance – Ministry of Health (external link)

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. Difficulty breathing can be a sign of pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention. 

Go to the Ministry of Health website for more information about the signs and symptoms:

Novel coronavirus guidance – Ministry of Health (external link)

Staying home

If you need to stay away from your education provider because you are at risk of infection for 14 days, this means avoiding close contact with other people as much as possible.

The Ministry of Health is strongly encouraging people who are staying away for the 14-day period, as a result of their travel to China, to register through the new dedicated 0800 number specifically for health-related calls about coronavirus (call for free on 0800 358 5453).

Go to the Ministry of Health website for further information on staying home:

Novel coronavirus information – Ministry of Health (external link)

Travel to and from China

As of 2 February 2020, all travellers arriving in New Zealand out of mainland China should stay away from school for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China.

People who departed from mainland China before midnight 2 February are not required to stay away unless they have been in Wuhan City or Hubei Province in the last 14 days. 

If someone has been in close contact with a confirmed novel coronavirus case they should stay home for 14 days. If you develop symptoms including fever, coughing and difficulty breathing you should ring Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.

Please see the Ministry Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) SafeTravel website for the latest advice on travel:

SafeTravel – Ministry Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) (external link)

More advice for students or staff returning from China is available on the Ministry of Health website:

Novel coronavirus guidance – Ministry of Health (external link)

新型冠状病毒:学生家人及看顾人须知 - Important information for parents and caregivers translated into simplified and traditional Chinese

新型冠状病毒:学生家人及看顾人须知 - Novel coronavirus Information for caregivers and whānau of learners  (translated into simplified Chinese)

新型冠狀病毒:學生家人及看顧人須知 - Novel coronavirus Information for caregivers and whānau of learners  (translated into traditional Chinese)

Key contacts

Healthline

Healthline has set up a dedicated 0800 number specifically for health-related calls about coronavirus:

The Healthline existing number 0800 611 116 is still the main number to call for non-coronavirus health concerns.

Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages including Mandarin and Cantonese.

Public health units/district health boards

If you need to contact your public health officer: 

Public Health Unit Contacts – Ministry of Health (external link)

New Zealand Immigration

Keep updated on travel restriuctions through the New Zealand Immigration website:

Immigration New Zealand Coronavirus Update (external link)

New Zealand Human Rights Commission

If you know someone who has experienced racial discrimination related to coronavirus, the Human Rights Commission offers a free and confidential enquires and complaints service which you can use:

Pastoral care for students

If you have specific questions about pastoral care for domestic or international students, please call NZQA’s Code team on 0800 697 296.

All-of-Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) website

Cross-agency information about novel coronavirus (COVID-19) including health advice and travel restrictions.

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) – New Zealand Government website (external link)

Tenancy Services 

Are you a landlord or a tenant dealing with a coronavirus situation? Make sure you are aware of your rights and responsibilities.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What landlords and tenants need to know – Tenancy Services (external link)

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